Dominic Wake, director of ETS plc, looks at how employers can keep staff motivated over the next 12 months.
As 2013 begins, many UK business owners will be reflecting back on the year just gone and wondering how they can make things better for their bottom line as well their employees because it's incredibly tough out there.
The economy remains in the doldrums. Demand from consumers isn’t as strong as it once was. Unemployment and job insecurity remains high, and many businesses which survived 2012 may be thanking their lucky stars.
Yet one thing remains constant – and that’s a happy workforce is a productive workforce. Being able to motivate and inspire your colleagues will always help a business get ahead. As we head into the New Year and face the challenges it will ultimately present, here’s a few top tips for how you can motivate your staff.
1. Money isn't everything
First up on your list should be to recognise that money isn’t everything when it comes to motivating your workforce. Sure, it can help, but it's a means to an end.
Leading economists predict that money is going to remain tight in 2013. Banks will remain reluctant to lend, and opportunities to expand will remain limited. As such, you're probably not going to be able to give a pay rises but you can motivate your workforce through setting goals, instilling pride, showing respect and giving praise.
2. Setting achievable goals
Why do people go to work? Sure, they go to earn money, but when you put that to one side it's to progress themselves – their knowledge – their skills and their experience.
Employees who know they have opportunities for growth beyond their current role will be more likely to stick around and work harder for that role.
Considering the state of the economy and job insecurity, a secure career path is far more attractive than a higher salary. Yet without any upward movement, employees will lose their sense of purpose and motivation.
Sit down with each employee and work out what your business wants to achieve throughout the year and how it relates to their roles. A bigger turnover? More clients? Retaining existing clients? Greater online exposure?
Whatever it is, you can help your business get their by taking your employees aside, one-by-one, and working together to come up with achievable goals.
2012 was a year the UK, as a whole, can be proud of. The Olympics were definitely something special. But many employees aren't proud of their workplace. They don't respect the business they work for, its values or its vision.
It's probably because they don't receive much support from their managers. If they did, then they would be more motivated to give their all.
When you think about it rationally, people will be more likely to get up and be raring to go if they feel they have a personal connection with the company which extends beyond daily, menial tasks. With that in mind, the New Year is the ideal time to do things which will make people feel they are working for a great organisation.
Money will remain tight for charities in 2013, so why not do things which make people want to come into work – other than to work? This purpose alone is a great motivating factor. Perhaps you can have a nominated charity for the year and organise fundraising events? You could even set a day or two aside for community work?
A New Year gives you the chance to start a company club, social evening or event.
It’s also the perfect time to change the way you interact with your local area. Perhaps you could do things for the benefit the local community? They will raise self-esteem as well as pride.
When motivating your employees, it’ll be much easier if people feel respected by their managers. If you respect your workers, and their social wellbeing, they will be more likely to respect you in return.
So how can you show respect? Simple.
Firstly, be consistent in your treatment of all of your employees. Don't be seen to have 'favourites' as there's nothing worse for causing resentment and in-fighting.
Money may indeed be tight, but have you thought about organising a 'wellness program' or putting in place an education or training course? You could negotiate a discount because the supplier will be crying out for new customers too.
If you don't have any money to spare, then what about putting in place a flexible working scheme or organising internal company shadowing in case people want to change their career? What about an internal company email or newsletter each week?
The message is clear; to show respect you need to be consistent. Provide mentoring and regular one-to-ones. Ask for opinions and inform your workers of developments in the company and above all be a professional role model.
5. Recognise a job well done
Finally, believe it or not, people take far much more from being told they are doing a job well, rather than seeing their pay increase. Unfortunately, many employees feel that their contribution to the company they work for is not recognised.
It's only natural for people to place an enormous amount of value on pride, personal satisfaction and recognition. However, managers shouldn’t lavish praise left, right and centre. If you save it for times when it’s for a special achievement it will set a high standard – getting your recognition will make people sit up and take notice.
The ideal scenarios in 2013 could include winning a new client, making significant savings, increasing exposure or by making a difference to the company.